"Restore our fortunes, Lord."
Time has passed and dry times have come upon the Israelites. Perhaps, as so often happens, the joy and exultation has become 'ho-hum' and they are back to their old ways. Dryness in their faith, and also as a nation, has caught them up into a place of despair, discouragement and apathy. Thirsty for the Lord's blessing and Presence they appeal again for deliverance and renewal that their weeping may be transformed into shouts of joy.
So like many of us! We pray and pray and suddenly beyond our wildest dreams our prayers are answered! What joy! What dancing! What thanksgiving to our God. But the days go by; life takes over and our passionate faith and wonder turns lukewarm. The blazing fire of joy becomes merely a few embers which flicker and threaten to lose their heat and reason for being.
"And the other nations said..."
In the past we were truly and without question a nation that prayed; a nation that called on the Lord; a nation that was respected among the nations. We were not banned from praying in public places. We were not ashamed to confess our faith. We were clear that, while all religions had freedom here, we were a country of faith in and under the Divine leadership of our Creator. In the present time, clouds of confusion, of apathy, of 'lukewarm' Christianity and 'whatever' thinking are slowly eroding the uniqueness and inclusiveness of the Great Commission to 'go into all the world' with the Gospel of God's love, grace, and redeeming, transforming power in Christ.
We, like the exiles, need to be on our knees pleading with our Lord to renew and revive our spirits; to fill our dryness of soul with the joy of all that God has done, is doing, and will do for us in and through our Lord and Savior. Our God weeps for the wickedness of all nations and calls us to sow the seeds of the Gospel with courage and passion that the harvest may be great. We need to really sorrow as Jesus did when he entered Jerusalem, for those who are lost and do not know the things that make for real and eternal peace. We are called to bear the precious burden of proclaiming His love 'in season and out of season'. May His Holy Spirit fill our hearts anew with a powerful, flaming passion for all people who have not heard or who have rejected His marvelous gift of redemption, reconciliation and new life.
Let us pray for opportunities to confidently and joyfully sow the seeds of the Gospel wherever we are called; that we may be beacons of hope and letters of recommendation in this world of shadows and competing ideologies. May our countenances show forth the joy of our salvation and may the grace, peace and mercy that we know in Jesus Christ go forth into all creation. Then, by the Lord's power, our sowing the Gospel with a tearful passion for souls will bring forth a great harvest and we will be filled with joy! Then and only then will other nations say again: 'What amazing things the Lord has done for them!"
- Linda Bolton
Bristol (NH) Baptist Church and their pastor Wayne Toutaint
First Baptist Church, Bristol, VT, and their interim pastor Todd Goodyear
Region Staff: Janet McFaul, Administrative Assistant